An Lanntair teams up with See Me and Mental Health Foundation for new art commission

  • Published on: 9th October 2019
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An Lanntair has teamed up with the Mental Health Foundation and See Me, Scotland’s national programme to end mental health stigma and discrimination,  to deliver a new participatory artwork commission on the Isle of Lewis.

Artists Martyn McKenzie and Kate McAllan will work with staff and participants from Catch 23, Penumbra and Western Isles Foyer on a series of workshops in Stornoway, culminating in an exhibition early next year.

Commissioned by See Me, Reliquary will see participants working with Martyn and Kate to design hand-made wooden boxes whose appearance and content reflect the lives of the people creating them. The project is part of See Me’s ongoing mission to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination.

Maeve Grindall, See Me social movement officer, said: “See Me is delighted to support Reliquary on the Isle of Lewis. Mental health stigma is reduced when people are able to share their experiences and speak openly about mental health. Being part of this art project allows participants to express very personal feelings in a safe environment.

“We hope the work created during this project will inspire others to speak more openly or consider things from a new perspective. We all have mental health and any of us could go through a period where we struggle, so it’s important that we all feel comfortable speaking about it.”

Kate McAllan and Martyn Mckenzie have worked in partnership for seven years, curating exhibitions, running community art workshops, and delivering three public art commissions. They describe their Reliquary project as follows:

We are interested in the psychological possibilities of a box, its interaction with the idea of public and private, and its ability to protect its contents. We are also interested in its simplicity and beauty as an object. In its essence it asks to be opened and shared. We will host a series of workshops where each participant will create their own hand-crafted ‘Reliquary’ box and fill it with artwork, writing and objects. This will culminate in an exhibition of all the participants’ work alongside further collaborative elements including a film and illustrated map.”

Penumbra Western Isles Support Manager, Christine Darby-Munro, said: “It’s important to challenge the all too often negative stereotypes associated with mental health, and encourage an environment where people feel able to talk openly about their mental and emotional wellbeing. We’re really excited about this project because it will reflect the unique personal accounts of the participants’ mental health journeys, and is a really creative way of getting people to think about the idea that we all have mental health.”

Rebecca Mahony, Western Isles Foyer project leader, said: “We are excited to be included in this project and hope that via participation young people will have the opportunity to express themselves and how they feel.”

For further information about the project, contact Andrew Eaton-Lewis at An Lanntair on